Where are the best local concert venues?

Attendees at the All Things Go Festival wait for a performance at Merriweather Post Pavilion. The festival featured many popular artists, such as King Princess, Mitski and Lorde.

For countless years, Washington D.C. has been home to a diverse music scene. Following closures and touring hiatuses due to Covid-19, D.C.’s scene has begun to rebound. With many artists beginning to tour, there’s an important question to ask — what are these local venues really like?

The Anthem – Washington, D.C.
The Anthem has a standing-room capacity of 6,000 people, making it a relatively averagely sized venue. It’s a recent addition to the area’s venues, opening in 2017 as part of the Wharf, a redevelopment of D.C.’s Upcoming concert dates include Måneskin, Keshi and Lewis Capaldi. The Anthem’s ambiance creates very enjoyable concert experiences.

“It’s a relatively small venue, general admission only. It’s not a stadium experience, which I’ve always preferred. You get to be really close to the artist [and] the energy is always good,” junior Jay Kauffman said.

Capital One Arena – Washington, D.C.
At a capacity of over 20,000 people, Capital One clocks in as the largest venue on this list. It’s home to D.C.’s Capitals and Wizards, but is also commonly used by major artists as a stop on their tours. Upcoming shows include Wizkid, Bruce Springsteen and Paramore. While its size can be daunting for some, Capital One Arena provides a great concert experience.

“I’ve been to quite a lot of concerts at Capital One Arena, and I really enjoy it. Even though you may not be on the floor, and even if you’re on the sides or all the way up at the top … from any angle it’s a really cool experience,” sophomore Billie Lieber said.

Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, Maryland
Merriweather Post Pavilion makes its mark as the only outdoor concert venue on this list, and arguably the most prominent of its kind within the D.C. area. The venue has a capacity of slightly over 19,000 people. Opening in 1967, it’s the oldest on this list, although it underwent renovations during the mid-to-late 2010s. Upcoming concerts include Louis Tomlinson and Arctic Monkeys.

I saw the Black Keys there. It was just fantastic. It wasn’t over the top, it was very toned down. It was the kind of environment that just made you want to enjoy and listen to music.

— senior Sam Blair

It features two separate stages, one with solely standing room and the other offering a classic seating area and a general admission floor, with a slanted field behind offering seating as well.

“There was this massive grassy area where a bunch of people could go. Coming back from Covid, it was really nice,” Blair said.

9:30 Club – Washington, D.C.
Unlike the other venues on this list, the 9:30 Club is quite small, with a capacity of only 1,200. Named in 2018 as one of the 10 best live music venues in the U.S. by Rolling Stone, the 9:30 club provides a very different ambiance than the other listed venues due to its size. Since its origins in 1980, it’s been known as a place for discovering up-and-coming acts. It was a major hub for hardcore and alternative music in its early years. Currently, the 9:30 Club hosts a variety of artists but still holds a primary focus on rock and alternative artists. Upcoming concerts include Men I Trust, Maya Hawke and Fitz and the Tantrums.

“I liked the 9:30 Club a lot better [than The Anthem]. I preferred the size,” junior Samantha Mouyard said.